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jewelry glossary

Antique jewelry glossary

Welcome to our extensive antique jewelry glossary with around 1,500 jewelry related entries.If you feel you are missing an explanation, feel free to let us know and we will add it.

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Promise rings

During the Elizabethan era, the height of the English Renaissance, we recognize the flowering of poetry, music and literature. The most famous person from this period is most definitely William Shakespeare. It is in these settings that the custom of young couples giving each other rings engraved with romantic sayings comes in to trend.  Although not being called promise rings we sure can say that they are the precedors of the promise ring.  Within this rings romantic sayings like “A Ma Vie De Coer Entier – My whole heart for my whole life” were engraved. It is believed that wearing this posey rings, as they were called, with the words  to ones skin has a magical effect. These symbolic words may be carved on the outside or inside of the ring, or on both sides, there is no right or wrong way to do it!


In modern times these promise rings have several meanings. For instance: 

  • Monogamy: A promise to stay faithful to one another.
  • Chastity or Purity: A promise to keep ones virginity until marriage.
  • Friendship: A promise to seal a pledge of eternal friendship.
  • Religious or Christian: A promise to remain committed to one’s faith or belief in the God of their understanding.

These are just a few of the contemporary reasons to give or wear a promise ring.

But the biggest reason to give a promise ring is as an pre-engagement ring.  Maybe it sounds heavier then it supposed to, it's like two people who are just dating and the boy/girl wants to express his/her intention of commitment to the other person. Something like “Hey, I like you and want to go “steady”.

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